Rock, Punk and Metal will save the world.

I spend my evenings these days listening to a spa music playlist on Spotify in order to calm Jacob down and get him into a bedtime mindset, so you can take this for what you feel it’s worth…

Also, a ton of artists’ music below can be found in the links in this post.

I really don’t enjoy most rock or pop (or especially R&B) music today. There are exceptions, of course, but in general, I am convinced it’s doing more damage today than good. Hear me out on this and let’s go back to 1997…

Grunge (my fave) was winding down, pop was winding up, and I was a freshman in college. Near the end of my freshman year in 1997, “Freshman” from The Verve Pipe (and no The Verve was NOT the same band) came out. In the midst of chaos of living alone for the first time and struggling to maintain sanity among homework, finances, full time work, and a social life, this song grabbed “my feels” as it is said today and it moved me. Here was this pop alternative band, shoving emotion into the mix of my brother’s White Zombie and Quad City DJs favorites and it turned me on to the next wave of alternative like Third Eye Blind and Barenaked Ladies, both who still make great albums by the way. In fact, a girl that frequented our small apartment parties liked “Freshman” so much she listened to it over a dozen times in a row and nearly drove everyone else crazy one night.

I moved to St Paul, then back to South Dakota, then down to Iowa, and then back to Minneapolis. I didn’t know it yet, but I was lost and it was music driving me further into the black. I had all of this emotion, and I didn’t know how to channel it into something productive.

I had come back to Minneapolis to be in radio, and while I kept my music options open at school, I still thrived from artists like Nina Gordon (formerly of Veruca Salt), Eve 6, Nine Days, and other more sugary artists on 104.1 The Point outside of school.

One day, while listening to a U2 song for the zillionth time (it could have been any band, but I think it was U2), I turned to Zone 105 to hear New Found Glory and their song “Hit or Miss“. I was always a Blink 182 kind of guy, but this, THIS blew me away. My mix CDs of music stolen from Napster turned from sugary pop alternative and headed deep into to punk, and eventually to rock, and I began to see the benefit.

A few weeks later, a guy named Neil was nice enough to give me an internship at 93x, a rock radio station in Minnesota (even though I got lost finding the building…twice), and though I enjoyed some NIN and Marilyn Manson from time to time, I honestly didn’t understand of what some metal and hard rock can do for the soul.

After a few bar gigs, I went to and worked at my first concert, the 3 day rock juggernaut-concert called XFest. By then, I was listening to more rock, but IN PERSON, it was a completely different experience. While there, I snapped a picture with Wayne Static and went with him to see Cher’s son play in the band Deadsy, I talked with Douglas from Hoobastank, saw Corrosion of Conformity rock out, and saw the not-yet-shitty Nickelback play “Super Bon Bon” from Soul Coughing. Couple that with a healthy dose of alcohol, only a few hours of sleep spread across three days, and 19 cans of Red Bull in a day (yes, 19…I had no idea what it could do..it was new to me) and I was thrown headlong into metal and hard rock fandom. I also realized the power of some badass rock.

While the sugary rock, pop and rap of the time was triggering emotion like the pop and rap/r&b of today does with it’s listeners, rock/punk/metal taught me how to deal with those emotions. I could feel sadness bubbling up while listening to “Flower” by the Eels, but harness that and channel it into something really productive with “Forty Six & 2” from Tool and work hard or use it to build myself up before something stressful. I could be saddened by a breakup, but turn it into a fun night out by taking away the hurt with Taking Back Sunday or Deadsy.

Hard rock and metal has been pushed aside lately, and record execs are to blame. First, everyone had to cut out guitar solos (bad idea), then once Staind had a popular slow song, everyone like Nickelback, Hinder, and Stone Sour had to follow with slow songs. Then, it all just sucked. Metallica tried to revive things with St Anger, but that was a terrible try. Soon, people were sick of hearing bands that all sounded like they copied the worst part of Pearl Jam vocal styles:

Bands were no longer making driving rock madness that spoke to people and these listeners all turned to other forms of music. With music today, the listener has emotions evoked (I don’t feel it, but my daughter tells me about it), but there is nothing to channel it, so it becomes angst and unhappiness or it becomes loathing and anger. The messages today of random casual sex, the drug life, and trying to cheat to get by in life are absorbed by the listener rather than messages of how a relationship goes wrong (The Starting Line), dealing with life (Korn), and rebelling against what is beating you down (NIN or Limp Bizkit). I know some rock songs back then had messages similar to today’s music, but it wasn’t every song on every channel like it is today.

Many of the rock stars of yesterday were bullied, beaten down by life, came from less than desirable home lives, etc., and rather than blame someone else for their problems, they did something great with their lives. That doesn’t really happen today because the genre picks YouTube stars and teens that are groomed for pop or Canadian actors that can’t sing for their stars.

Rock also helped me find my way back to religion after losing touch with what I actually believed in. After being bored by typical church services, I took interest in my wife’s church when she told me it was more like a rock concert with a message baked in than a stuffy church service. I went. She was right (only time I will publicly admit that). I’ve been going ever since.

Channel 41 on XM is a nice throwback to the metal and hard rock of the late 90s and 2000s. It’s good stuff. They should play more of it on FM rock stations, but not slip into the mind numbing Top 40 “overplay everything” format. Bring back some good hard rock and maybe we’d be in a world where people could positively channel confusion, anger, and frustration instead of having a meltdown because they can’t deal with feelings. Maybe it’s driving bass or a lung shaking guitar crunch, but whatever it is, it’s missing from today’s music.

What about country music? Well, nothing has ever been wrong with country. It has sadness, wild times, happiness and some anger all built in. If I can’t find rock, country is my next best option. Just no Kip Moore. That guy’s worse than Nickelback.

Sean

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The Comeback

Over the past few years, as marriage, a new child, and the first child entering teen-dom, I haven’t been going to the gym as much.  I stayed home for most of the first year of my sons life, or at least more than the first year of Olivia’s.  I have some catching up to do.

It’s okay to slide, and it’s okay if life gets in the way of progress, but never lose that focus.  Make your focus something you can always come back to when life gets straightened out.

I have a trip, my FIRST trip outside of the US coming in Feb (somewhere beachy) and I have set a goal for myself to snap back into shape.  It’s going well so far, but the sudden return to squats is killing my ass muscles.

With the exception of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and NYE, I will be disciplined in staying active in watching what I eat.  Hopefully, the result will be something I keep with me for years to come.

Wish me luck.

 

Sean

Snowflakes

I have been avoiding politics on my site because they’ve become so divisive lately, but after getting over 30 emails asking whether or not I like or hate our government, I thought I’d respond.  I will keep this as light as possible.

First, let me say that no matter what side you’re on, the constant whining and protesting is embarrassing.  I was pissed when George W got elected.  I was even more pissed when he got reelected.  I didn’t go block traffic, light someone’s car on fire or throw around hate speech on Facebook.  I just dealt with it.  There are those that would say the protests are Americans making progress.  I will tell you flat out, you’re right…It’s pushing people away from your cause.  If you are preventing people’s life events from happening, your argument is automatically invalid in my eyes.  If you’re saying hateful things or breaking laws, I will never see your viewpoint because I just see your misdeeds.

Adults, and by adults I mean mature adults, know that things don’t always go their way.  They also know that people don’t have to agree with their viewpoints and (in the event of disagreement) disagreement can be civil and calm.  Everyone else has yet to figure this out, and in the meantime, our country suffers.

That said, here is where I stand:

It really doesn’t matter who is President, I base my my votes on views:

America needs to be safer and needs a strict and legal immigration process that is also faster than it has been.  Illegal immigrants in the US should be given one chance to become legal (unless they have committed serious crimes) and if they bypass that chance, they need to leave and reenter legally.

People in minimum wage jobs do not need to make $15 an hour.  They also need to be pushed into skilled labor jobs. Minimum wage jobs should be opened to people in high school or getting back on their feet or finishing college …or retirees, with the expectation that people will move to more skilled jobs or retire fully after time. Everyone should learn skilled or technical labor.

Pipelines are fine by me.  As someone that has felt the heat of a burning semi truck from 100 yards away, a pipeline seems like a much safer bet than putting explosives on a truck or train.

Capitalism isnt perfect but it’s what works best.  Socialism does not…Ever.  Never has, never will.  History has proven this.

I believe people that protest illegally or block the flow of people at a public venue or highway should be arrested.  I also believe people that start crossing the street on a don’t walk signal deserve a fine.  Laws are laws.

No, people don’t need to be equal in all things.  There need to be winners and losers in all aspects of life.  Same with rich and poor, just like there will always be sick and healthy and this will never change, no matter how much people try to change it.  You won’t always win and you shouldn’t.  Know life should be best spent working hard and learn to lose gracefully.

I am pro-choice but also pro-life.  I don’t feel a fully formed baby deserves termination, but I won’t make demands on your uterus or vagina.  That’s between you and God.

Speaking of which, I am a Christian.  I have Christian beliefs, but I don’t expect others to share those views.  My views are my own and others can have theirs as long as they pose no direct physical threat to me or my family/friends.  Have whatever religion you want, just don’t let it make you crazy.

I feel homosexuality is fine for anyone enjoying that lifestyle.  I feel socially promoted promiscuity is a larger danger to society than the sexual preference of men or women.  We need to promote marriage as an important part of society, regardless of sexual orientation.

I feel any person or group that openly promotes hatred or violence toward a group of people or the government should be considered a hate group or a menace to society.

I feel people have lost touch with their ability to tolerate opposing views because they’ve lost touch on their ability to socialize.  Rather than eye contact and conversation, it’s liking a post or posting with online blurbs.  Talk to each other.  Have a disagreement.  Don’t let that change friendships.

I feel our country is great, and no matter which way it sways politically, there is no reason to be destructive, hateful, or violent in the name of politics.

Celebrities and musicians need to keep political preference to themselves.  Have something to say?  Put it in a song or a movie.

I don’t believe any racial group has privelege over another.  We are all born naked and afraid and the rest of our lives should be spent making sure we don’t die that way.  Some will do better than others.  Some will fail.  Some will be slowed down by life events.  Not all of us will accomplish our goals.  It doesn’t mean we have failed or others have failed us.  It means we haven’t adapted to changes.

People need healthcare but no one should be forced to buy it.  It should also always be affordable for everyone.

College shouldn’t be free, but public college shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.  If tuition rises, it should be for academic progress not athletics.

Common core is the worst thing in education.  We need to say the Pledge every day.  No one sits out of this or the National Anthem.

Safe spaces and trigger words are ridiculous.  Suck it up.

We need to stop comparing America to other countries.  We aren’t them and they aren’t us.  Every country has at least one thing better than another country and constantly comparing these things is like saying Adidas is better than Nike.  Everyone will always disagree.

I feel Americans don’t do a solid job of respecting our military or law enforcement.

That’s it.  I have always hovered in the middle (though I consider myself fiscally conservative), but the far left and far right are really putting the squeeze on people in the middle these days.  It sucks.  If you’re in the middle with me, don’t let the wackos make you nuts.  Just hang tight and stay calm…And for goodness sake, avoid Facebook.

Sean

 

 

Loyalty and looks

Anonymous wrote:

Sean, I don’t know if you answer emails anymore because I haven’t seen much activity, but I am hoping you can help me with something. A friend of mine is always complaining that he can’t find a girl that will stay with him, because he says he is loyal and attractive and a nice guy, and “good in bed”, but he does not have a job, he does not treat people well, and he has no social skills or manners. It seems to me like he is overlooking all of this just for his looks and loyalty and I am wondering how I can tell him that women want more than just an attractive guy that will stay loyal.

What’s your response?

Anonymous

 

Anonymous,

You have a good head on your shoulders. It seems like so many people today are focused on attracting people with three qualities: looks, loyalty, and being sexual. While those may be traits that attract people, they aren’t traits that will attract the “right people”.  Your friend will end up heartbroken, alone, and miserable if he can’t realize he has to offer more than what he is displaying.  He needs a path in life (career goals).  A job at Jimmy John’s is good for a high school or college kid, but if he is out of school, he better be beyond that kind of job.  If school isn’t his “thing”, learning a skilled labor job like welding, electrical skills, computer programming, etc., will take him far in life.  As far as manners and social skills, it’s time someone gives him a crash course (you, Anonymous).  If he is over 18, he should be dressing well, using basic manners (don’t swear in professional or family spaces, say please and thank you, know how to use silverware and to tie a tie, and know that conversation involves handshakes and eye contact and intelligence.

The “not treating people well” part made me cringe.  Why is he your friend if he doesn’t treat people well?  Have you told him to cut the crap and be respectful?  What specifically does he do?  This may be a harder course to correct, but do your best.

Good luck.

 

Sean

 

 

Life in the burbs

Jacob is almost 6 months old.  Olivia is 13 1/2.  I’ve started a new job and I’m about two months in.  We are all healthy and happy.

Life out here in the burbs is nice.  We are decorating our house exterior for Christmas for the first time, which I am excited about.

I never thought I’d end up here when I started this blog in 2009.  I continue to push myself in personal and professional endeavors, and I try to encourage those around me to do the same.

Life is what you make it folks.  If you feel life is overwhelming, it’s because you’re letting it overwhelm you.  If you feel the world is a bad place, it’s because you’ve lost sight of the good things.  If you feel no one loves you, it’s because you aren’t loving yourself.  If you feel your career path sucks, it’s because you’ve settled and you aren’t learning new skills to take you further. Every sunrise is only as beautiful as the witness to that sunrise believes it is.

I have a few more posts to close out the year.  Stick around.

 

Sean

Dad Brand

Little Jacob joined our family about a month ago and it’s been a haze of sleeplessness, bottles, crying (sometimes the baby does it too), and diaper changing.

It’s a great feeling being a dad twice over, and knowing that my daughter is into her teens and doing very well for herself, I am a little more confident handling our newborn.

The number one question I get when people find I have a teen and a newborn is, “Is there anything you are going to different this time?”

With the exception of not working three jobs, I think Olivia turned out well, so I plan on keeping my “dad brand” the same.  

The really cool thing I look forward to is sharing the moments I missed the first time with Olivia and my wife and seeing Olivia’s face as she sees her little bro reach these milestones I missed with her.

I am also realizing again how difficult the first few months are with a newborn.  I have backed out of my driveway to head to work and have been so tired, I have forgotten where I am headed…twice.  

9.5 years ago, I started this site as a single dad trying to make a good life for my daughter and I.  Since then, I have moved up professionally, gotten married, raised a wonderful daughter (with help from her moms, of course), and we now have a new addition to add to our great adventure in life.  

There are more posts coming…just let me get this little guy a solid start.
Sean

I guess this is growing up.

The baby is almost here.  It’s May, and it’s gorgeous outside.  Stephanie is asleep on the couch and I can see the baby moving inside of her from across the room. Olivia is finishing up her last month of 7th grade and the new baby will be along in weeks or days (I am leaning more toward a matter of days, personally…).

I worked two to three jobs when Olivia was first born.  I had just enough time to pick her up, eat, and put her to bed during most days, but we managed to have fun when we could.  She is a teenager now, and while she still spends time with us in the evenings (when I was that age, I spent most of my evenings watching TV in the basement),  it won’t be long before she develops a social life and we start seeing her less after dinner.  It will be an interesting dynamic raising a teen and a newborn at the same time. 

I hope Olivia sees the value in spending time with her newborn brother…the 13 year age gap is a big one, but she is such a good person and I think she will be an excellent role model for her little brother.

I am glad I have more time these days.  I feel like I work quite a bit, but at least it’s not 3 jobs and a drive between them.  Income is better than it was back in 2003 too, so there are more options for activities.  I look forward to new adventures and experiences with our new, larger family.

Sean

Water under the bridge PT4

I moved to Minnesota again.  My dad was nice enough to help me find a place in Apple Valley.  School was starting soon, and he took every opportunity to remind me of it as we lugged a 200lb couch up two flights of stairs to my apartment.

I had decided to be a radio DJ after visiting my friend Adam and his girlfriend down in Iowa.  They were both DJs and I had realized how much music was a part of my life.  Napster was released that fall and I must have downloaded a few hundred thousand songs in preparation for a radio career.

I was working at Home Depot, living paycheck to paycheck, but I had never felt more alive.  I made friends with three guys.. Dennis, Brian and Joe at school and would see Kris or Josh whenever they came to town. 

I got an internship at a radio station that spring, after the school I was going to tried telling us we would start our careers in small town.  I was convinced I’d prove them wrong, so I got the internship to start off on the right path.  Brian and Joe also joined me and we had a blast.  My first concert of my life was a three day festival, meeting multiple rock stars, and partying from sundown to sun up.  I was celebrating that I finally felt like I was home again.

Radio didn’t work out.  After 9/11, the industry changed and I eventually moved on.  I can look back the 6 years I spent as a DJ with fondness, but it just wasn’t a career that would pay the bills.  Despite the career change, I still felt at home in Minnesota.    

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What has always fascinated me was the draw of this city.  It has endured prohibition and mobsters, weathered a logging boom, fostered a Minnesota music scene in the 80’s (thanks Prince) and 90’s (thanks Semisonic and Soul Asylum), and it is an ever-changing mess of a life that always provides a beauty that can’t be found anywhere else.  Whether I am walking to work and taking pictures of beautiful buildings, hiking in any of the amazing parks, or out people watching, I am always amazed at the beauty of my city.  I may see incredible sights when I travel, I may adore South Dakota, I may be born in Iowa, but I found my life and love in Minnesota.

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My daughter was born here, and in a matter of weeks, my son will be too.  I hope someday, they find the same beauty I see here.  Plain and simple, Minnesota my home and there is no place like it.

Water under the bridge PT3

Iowa was nice.  It was nice to see my family.  My dad did a ton of traveling for work while I was growing up and he had a desk job now, so it was a new dynamic.  I had a larger town to explore and I loved college at UNI, but something was still off.  I was depressed more and more every day because I felt so…lost in the world.  I just couldn’t find my home.

I enrolled in the military later that spring and went to a base outside of Atlanta for training.  I had a cyst develop on my wrist that the military deemed a “pre-existing condition” and I was medically discharged.  Rather than journeying around the world on Uncle Sam’s dime, I was sent home to Iowa. 

I went back to school that fall and changed from an education major to a communications major.  I dated, I had relationships, and I started a non-school-sponsored International Students Club.  I met interesting people, I learned about their home cities, and it only made me miss Minnesota more. 

One year after coming back to Iowa, I left again…

Water under the bridge PT2

I was stuck in South Dakota, or I felt I was.  Kris made a comment several times that living in “the cities” changed me for the better.  I was more outgoing and I was a little more fearless, but I was also impatient with smaller town life.  Life was moving so fast around me, but I felt like I was standing still. 

I made trips back to St Paul while on the way home to my family in Iowa.  I’d try to visit my friend Adam or other people I knew, or stop in at my “old job”, but I would always leave, feeling like I was heading back to a town where I loved the people, but felt uncomfortable with the town itself.  I felt like a snake in old skin that I couldn’t shed.

I moved back to Iowa that winter because I felt a change of scenery to a slightly larger town would be beneficial.  I thought that would fix my dilemma for sure…I was wrong.